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Directing from the Heart: Ang Lee
From Script to Screen: Interviews with Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
Sharing the Story: The Making of Brokeback Mountain
“Brokeback Mountain is a sweeping epic that explores the lives of two young men, a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy, who meet in the summer of 1963 and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection. The complications, joys and heartbreak they experience provide a testament to the endurance and power of love. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal deliver emotionally charged, remarkably moving performances in ‘a movie that is destined to become one of the great classics of our time’ (Clay Smith, The Insider).”
Brokeback Mountain is rated R for sexuality, nudity, language and some violence.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t interested in the gay aspect of the film. Watching Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal simulate homosexual intercourse really isn’t my idea of entertainment. But casting aside all the hype about the homosexuality, the film still isn’t my kind of movie. The film starts out very slowly as we see the cowboys herding sheep in the mountains. (Shouldn’t it be a gay shepherd movie then?) It’s very slowly paced with little dialogue and long sleepy shots of the beautiful landscape. I found it rather boring. Then as the love story emerges, we see the characters fall into dysfunctional relationships, screw up their children’s lives, and generally drift into depression. I’ve never liked watching a film where characters lives slowly circle down the toilet and that’s pretty much the central part of Brokeback Mountain. Everyone in the film is miserable. It may make great Academy Award material, but I don’t think it’s entertainment.
I did think Brokeback Mountain was well acted. I like Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. I thought they portrayed their characters well and Ledger made an impressive transformation from Aussie to cowboy. I thought Michelle Williams was also good portraying the tormented wife of Ennis. Williams did a good job showing her character’s inner heartbreak at her husband’s extracurricular activities and her conflicting desire to keep a stable family for her daughters. I was really surprised I didn’t recognize Anna Faris (Scary Movie) as LaShawn Malone and Linda Cardellini (Scooby Doo) as Cassie. These actresses were memorable in their roles and you certainly wouldn’t be able to connect them with their previous roles unless you recognized their names.
Ang Lee does a good job directing the film. You certainly wouldn’t realize the same guy directed Hulk and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. However, you start to wonder if he can point the camera any direction in Calgary and get a good shot. The music by Gustavo Santaolalla is also good, but I have to admit that after hearing the theme a bazillion times in the bonus features, menus, parodies, and in the movie, I’m officially sick of it.
Overall Brokeback Mountain is a well made film with a great cast, but the subject matter (from the gay cowboy love story to the depressing characters) just didn’t appeal to me.
On Being a Cowboy This featurette talks about how Ledger and Gyllenhaal trained to be cowboys in the film. From ridin’ to ropin’, this shows their preparation. We also see Anne Hathaway learning to barrel race and the bull riders used in the movie.
Directing from the Heart: Ang Lee The cast and crew of the film sing the praises of Ang Lee. From his directing style to his interest in the characters, the chorus is universally positive when talking about him and his high level of involvement.
From Script to Screen: Interviews with Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana – The two writers talk about how they transformed a short story from The New Yorker into the film itself. It’s an interesting process which they go into detail about here. Some of the actors and actresses also discuss their take on the characters and story, too.
Sharing the Story: The Making of Brokeback Mountain This is a show from the “Logo Channel” about the making of the movie. (I’ve never heard of the Logo Channel.) It’s your typical “making of” special featuring interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage, and more. It’s also about the only footage you’ll find of Michelle Williams talking about the movie. Heath Ledger also looks particularly odd with Bono sunglasses and scraggly hair.
The Bottom Line: